Friday, December 8, 2023

Public Transport

Just the Subway
TTC Map - a bit confusing
Without a “Daily Driver” car here in Toronto, we have had to rely on the public transit system to get around, and we have found that Toronto’s TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) is a very efficient way to get where we want to go. The TTC consists of a Subway system with a line that runs North/south and North/west (Line 1), another two that run east/west, (line 2 & 4), Streetcars that serve most of the major streets, and busses that serve most other areas. In addition, The Subway line 1 goes to the Union Train station which connects to the GO trains that serve outlying areas and the UP Express that gets you quickly to the Pearson Airport. 

You can purchase a handy Presto card that gives you access to all of these services. You simple tap your card when you enter the subway stations, or when you get on the streetcars or buses. They are all connected and there is an automatic two hour transfer, so you can take subway, streetcar or bus and so long as you are within the two hour limit you are not charged. Using the GO train or UP Express, you tap your card before getting on the train and then when you get off and your fare reflects how far you go. 

The Subway

The Subway is the most efficient way around the city itself as it runs underground and so avoids all the traffic, and Toronto is reputed to have two rush hours running from 6 AM to Noon and another running from Noon to 6 PM. That is a slight exaggeration, but in general there is always traffic in the downtown core. The street cars and the busses of course run on the streets so are in traffic, but someone else is doing the driving and so long as you avoid the real busy times seats are available and comfortable. The GO trains are a comfortable ride and runs alongside one of the citie’s major highways, the Gardiner Expressway, so you get to silently zip quickly past the frustrated drivers on the highway stuck in traffic. 

TTC Streetcar

The first few times visiting Toronto, we got used to using the subway but were slightly confused with the streetcar and bus routes so avoided them. This time, here for a year, we have become comfortable with using the entire system. Using a combination of subway, streetcar, bus or GO train we have been able to get anywhere we want to go within the city. 

We discovered a suggested four block neighbourhood with some interesting things to see, so we decided to use the system to go visit the area. A short walk brought us to the Collage subway stop on line one and we too the train south on the Yonge line to Union Station and then north on the University line to St. Andrews where we got off and walked down to the Ossington Neighbourhood where we spent $90 in a Cocktail store without buying any actual alcohol, bought Regis a necklace that was worn by the “Mother of the Bride” in a movie made in California, and had lunch at a Coffee & Wine cafe. We then walked back to Collage St. Where we caught a Streetcar to take us back to Church St and a short walk back home. Now all these place names and street names probably mean little to most of you, but it’s just me bragging about how well I have gotten to know Toronto downtown. 

The GO Trains

Although the TTC does work very well, the ride home did show one serious problem. Lots of people just do not pay. We sat across from one of the streetcar’s middle doors where people entering the car are supposed to tap their Presto cards to pay for their ride. There are lots of signs warning of “Fare Enforcement” and advising users that “All passengers must tap upon entering”, but we were surprised at how many people just got on without paying. Riding for six stops, we saw at least 20 people who ignored the payment procedure and that was just one door. Teams of teenagers, gangs of grandmas and entire families took advantage of the fact that no one actually enforces the “Fare Enforcement” rules. You can’t easily get onto the subway without tapping your card, but it seems that many Torontonians have figured out how to ride for free on the streetcars and buses. This is a shame, because Toronto’s public transit system works well and people using it really should be happy to support it by paying the quite reasonable fares. 

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